When I started in sales, I was focused on one goal, closing the deal. On my quest to make a sales call that would put me over the top of my annual budget, I made a huge mistake and learned a valuable lesson from my client. I came to the appointment with the goal of asking for the order. I left with nothing, followed by an angry phone call to my sales manager asking for a new salesperson. You see, I did not show a genuine interest in the relationship or my customers business. This selfish plan backfired, big time.

Great Selling starts with listening. You will improve your client relationships and
create more sales revenue by tuning in to every client you communicate with.

The majority of sales people I train and work with love to socialize and be the center of attention. While an outgoing personality is important in sales, it's even more important to have the right balance of ego and empathy. Empathy enables you to step into your customer's shoes and understand at a fundamental level what they need and want.

When you don't listen to your customer, you won't be able to empathize with them and you won't be able to make the sale. Certainly this was the case with my, ahem…former client.

Here are some solid suggestions guaranteed to improve your listening skills and help you build better, more lucrative relationships.

Stay in the moment

Have you ever lost the train of conversation because you've been planning what you'll say next? Come on, be honest, 99% of sales people are guilty of this at some point. Instead of thinking about what you will say next, or concentrating on asking for the sale, relax, make eye contact, and prepare to listen. By staying in the moment, you demonstrate a true interest in the person you are meeting with. If your mind starts to wander, come back to the present moment and clarify your place in the conversation.

You have two ears and one mouth for a reason

Many sales professionals are so well trained to talk about the features and benefits of their products or services, they forget to hone in on what products or services truly fit the customer's needs. Listening well will uncover a problem. If you aren’t listening, you may make a recommendation that will not meet your customer’s expectations … and then you've lost the sale. In extreme circumstances, you may even lose the customer.

Repeat what you hear your customer saying to you

Try repeating what your customer just said to clarify and demonstrate that you understand your customer. This technique improves listening skills and will help zero in on an obstacle or objection. Taking time to clarify a conversation will improve how you communicate with everyone you touch.

Listening includes paying attention to body language

People give obvious clues to what they really think through their body language. Observe your customers' body language closely. Leaning forward, smiling, and asking a lot of questions about detail are good signs that you have an interested prospect. On the other hand, a person who doesn’t maintain eye contact or has very few questions
and seems to be in a hurry is still guarded and needs more attention.

Follow up with reflection and clarification

After a presentation, following up with a client is key to building a solid relationship. When you make the follow up call, reiterate the issues you discussed in your last meeting, then present the idea or solution you have to solve the issue and see how quickly you can earn your client’s trust.

Keep E-mail communication brief and direct

E-mail can be easily misunderstood. Take your time writing and editing e-mail messages. The beauty of e-mail is how quickly you can reach a person. The downside is how quickly your message can be misunderstood. When responding to an e-mail, address each topic in the same order the questions are posed. Take care to keep your message brief and always make sure you allow for any questions or clarifications.

Partnering for success has everything to do with listening.

Remember these points:

1. Take time to stay in the moment.

2. Repeat what you hear.

3. Stay relaxed.

4. If you communicate a lot by e-mail, keep your messages short and sweet.

5. Pay attention to non-verbal behavior.

6. Always take time to follow up with reflection and clarification.

Master the art of listening and you will become a great sales person.

2006 Copyright - Shann Vander Leek, True Balance Life Coaching

Author's Bio: 

For 15 years, Shann Vander Leek has inspired sales professionals and entrepreneurs. Telephone and email consultations make her accessible to clients all over the world. Please visit www.truebalancelifecoaching.com to sign up for the True Balance E-Zine or to schedule your complimentary 30-minute discovery session.